Stan Lee Media’s attempt to reclaim the rights to Conan the Barbarian was dismissed by a federal judge, but the current owners of the failed Internet start-up company are still pursuing an appeal of an earlier decision that dismissed the company’s suit seeking Stan Lee’s rights to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and other properties co-created by Lee at Marvel comics (see “Case Dismissed”).
Though it bears his name, Stan Lee Media does not represent Stan Lee’s interests--in fact the company is actually suing Lee along with Marvel (see “Stan Lee Media vs. Stan Lee”). The convoluted legal situation had its origins in August of 1998 when Marvel declared bankruptcy and ceased paying Stan Lee a million dollar-a-year fee, and freeing Lee to form Stan Lee Entertainment, which was later merged into Stan Lee Media, which had pretensions to Internet glory, and was run by scam artist Peter F. Paul, who later fled the country to avoid prosecution after Stan Lee Media went bankrupt in 2001. Lee signed a new agreement with Marvel in November of 1998, though Stan Lee Media insists that he had assigned his rights to SLM in October. The nearly worthless SLM stock was purchased by “bottomfeeders” who are currently pushing the lawsuits in hopes of a big payday.
Stan Lee Media opportunistically filed the Conan lawsuit last August as a new Conan movie hit theaters alleging that SLM stockholders weren’t informed when the Conan rights were sold back to the Conan Sales Co. (which later sold them to current rights holder Paradox Entertainment). Hollywood Esquire reports that the Judge ruled that shareholder notice was not necessary during the bankruptcy process, and even if it was Stan Lee Media had no legal standing in the case to make the complaint. This ruling does bode well for Stan Lee Media’s March date with the 2nd Court of Appeals, but the SLM folks are playing a longshot anyway.